Thursday, August 25, 2016

"He's like the polestar of human evil..."

Everything I pick up to read lately seems to have a direct connection to Donald J. Trump. Last week it was the parallels to August Melmotte in Trollope's The Way We Live Now.  Last night I finished reading Part Two: Perestroika of Tony Kushner's Angels in America in which Donald Trump's mentor Roy Cohn is a major character.

Louis Ironson has slowly come to accept that his current lover is married, a lawyer, a Mormon, and even a Republican, but when Louis is told by Roy Cohn's nurse that his new lover is also working for the abrasive McCarthyite lawyer who taught Donald Trump everything he knows, then Louis loses it:
I don't believe you. Not Roy Cohn. He's like the polestar of human evil, he's like the worst human being who ever lived, he isn't human even, he's... You think everything is black and white, good and evil, just because somebody is Republican they're in bed with Roy Cohn. People like you finally fail to have an adequately grown-up, nuanced view of the world, you're Manichean... [Act Four, Scene 2]

Not all Republicans are in bed with Roy Cohn, but at least one was and is, and he's running for President now.

My next book is John Meacham's American Lion about Andrew Jackson. I wonder if there will be any Trump parallels there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'Ambulance Blues' is the song of the night

In the car tonight I listened to all of Neil Young's On the Beach, one of my favorite albums since I first bought it on vinyl in 1974.

These last lines from the last track are stuck in my head. I want them stuck in yours too.

I never knew a man
could tell so many lies
He had a different story
for every set of eyes
How can he remember
who he's talking to?
Cause I know it ain't me,
and hope it isn't you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

A Hillary Clinton speech just ended on CNN.
While Donald Trump has been ending all his rallies with "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (against the Stones' wishes), Hillary ends with this:

"When a man's frauds have been enormous there is a certain safety in their very diversity and proportions."

At this point, about two thirds through Trollope's The Way We Live Now, shadowy London financier August Melmotte is making his first foray into the political world, running for Parliament and finding out that one of his recent shady real-estate transactions might be exposed publicly right after he had hosted a dinner in his home for the Emperor of China attended by the great men of England and Europe.

My current pleasure reading takes a political turn.

...I think he took some pride in his own confidence as to his own courage, as he stood there turning it all over in his mind. Very much might be suspected. Something might be found out. But the task of unravelling it all would not be easy. It is the small vermin and the little birds that are trapped at once. But wolves and vultures can fight hard before they are caught. With the means which would still be at his command, let the worst come to the worst, he could make a strong fight. When a man's frauds have been enormous there is a certain safety in their very diversity and proportions. Might it not be that the fact that these great ones of the earth had been his guests should speak in his favour? A man who had in very truth had the real Brother of the Sun dining at his table could hardly be sent into the dock and then sent out of it like a common felon. (page 472 of Penguin Classics paperback)

With legal cases about Trump's so-called "University" still pending, his complicated tax returns still unreleased, a history of bankruptcies, thousands of "minor" lawsuits, and more, the "diversity and proportion" of Trump's financial shenanigans put August Melmotte's to shame (though Melmotte did it from nothing without being given a head start by his father). If we do see any of Donald Trump's tax returns before November 8 (unlikely at this point as he continues to thumb his nose at the voters and the media), the chances are that, unless he gave nothing to charity or paid no taxes, the rule-bending in those thousands of pages would be so financially arcane that it would take teams of forensic accountants to root it out and another team to try to reduce it to layman's terms. It's only "the small vermin and little birds that are trapped at once."

If I entertained any notion that Donald Trump might have the attention span to tackle it, I might think that he had modeled parts of his life on The Way We Live Now.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Is there any proof that Donald Trump ever voted (before voting for himself)?

Trump on Facebook, 13 August 2016, promising to
change system from "Rigged" to "Fixed."
It was strange when Ivanka and Eric Trump couldn't figure out the rules for voting as Republicans in this spring's New York primary (I figured out how to switch from "No Party" to "Democratic" even without my father running), but maybe voting has never been a high priority within the Trump family before 2016.

This feeling was reinforced when Donald Trump said the following to Bill O'Reilly as he started his latest free-fall in the polls:
“The whole thing with voter ID identification I think is really — I mean people are going to walk in, they are going to vote 10 times maybe. Who knows? They are going to vote 10 times. I am very concerned and I hope the Republicans are going to be very watchful and I hope the authorities are going to be very watchful.” --Trump on Fox News, August 2

Who knows? Anyone who has ever been at an actual local polling station knows that this sort of casual "going to vote 10 times maybe" would be impossible. I've only voted in five different places in two states (New York and New Jersey). None of them ever required photo IDs, but once you signed your name in the book, there would be no way to sign twice (or ten times) without having created multiple identities at multiple addresses in advance. How could a significant number of people be recruited to commit these crimes?

By this week in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump was keeping the same conspiracy theories alive, though now admitting that the thousands or millions of vote fraudsters might only be voting half as many times:
"We're gonna watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don't come in and vote five times. ... The only way we can lose, in my opinion -- and I really mean this, Pennsylvania -- is if cheating goes on. I really believe it." --Trump in Altoona, Pennsylvania, August 12
Trump is currently down by more than 9 points in the latest Keystone State polls, and he has never led there, but if he loses in November it will only be due to "those people" voting 5 or 10 times? This is dangerous anti-democratic and anti-American demagoguery aimed at the most credulous elements of his uneducated base of supporters, and it will be amplified by the Republican spokespeople of Fox News who still harbor fictions about Romney losing Pennsylvania because of fraud.

Now, even though every polling place already has official poll watchers from both parties at every local site (something that most 70-year-olds with a lifetime of voting behind them would probably know), Donald J. Trump is asking supporters on his website today to volunteer as "Trump Election Observers" to "Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!"
As seen on on August 13, 2016.
There has never been more of a need for an absolute landslide for Hillary Clinton. Every vote in every state counts in 2016. A decisive electoral college victory will not be enough to convince the most hardcore conspiracy theorists, but a popular vote burial of trumpism will insure that the conspiracy theorists might remain a very small nutcase fringe rather than a main current of Republican thought.

And are we ever going to see any documentary proof that Donald Trump visited an actual polling place before he voted for himself in 2016?
(UPDATE 10/21/16: Click to see video of DJT and Billy Bush voting in 2004.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Video Preview of the First Clinton-Trump Debate...

...starring Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis:

Donald Trump may be the only person on the planet who has even more trouble saying the words "apologize" and "I'm sorry" than Stupid Otto.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Great minds and all that...

When I posted my snarky little piece about Donald Trump's official weight this morning, I had no idea that the Pulitzer-worthy journalists of the National Enquirer were asking the same question about the Democratic nominee. So I was a little surprised when this was the cover that greeted me on the checkout line as I bought my lunch this afternoon:
"Hillary Gains 103 Lbs!" ?
By the way, the same internet sources that gave Trump's weight at 198 pounds this morning give Hillary's weight as 132, so I'm not sure where the crack researchers and punctilious fact-checkers (and creative Photoshop artistes) of the Enquirer got their "Then" and "Now" weights of 186 and 289 respectively.

With #HillaryHealth trending on Twitter this week for no reason other than the fact that Assange, Trump, Shkreli, Alex Jones, Breitbart, and Putin's, have all decided it is the attack of the week, I probably shouldn't be surprised to see Donald Trump's favorite bathroom reading joining in the fray. The message from Trump Tower headquarters must have gotten a little bit scrambled though; while most of the right-wing echobox is touting capitalist vampire Martin Shkreli's expert claim that Hillary has Parkinson's, the Enquirer seems to have transferred that ailment (with a side of Alzheimer's) to Hillary's husband.

Who is going to factcheck Google on Trump's vital statistics?

I have to preface this by saying that I'm 6'3" and I've weighed between 175 and 220 over the last forty years, so I have some idea what 198 pounds should look like on Donald Trump's frame. There is no way that he weighs 198 unless his belly, butt, and double chins are all filled with helium.
Google search for "How much does Trump weigh?" on 11 August 2016.

I've never had the appropriate job experience judging the weights of strangers at a booth in a county fair, but my partially-educated guess is that he weighs about 240. Anyone else have a guess they want to leave in the comments?

The American press doesn't really treat Donald Trump  in the way he deserves. He needs to be treated the way the Daily Mail did when they greeted the appearance of the junk-food-eating tycoon at his golf resort in Scotland with an illustrated article in 2012: "Maybe he should try EATING greens instead! Stout Donald Trump tees off at his new Scottish resort."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"I don't think Trump is Hitler at all; I think he's fuckin' Satan" --Marc Maron

Anyone who listens to Marc Maron's WTF podcast (and if you're not listening, why not?) knows that the highlight can often be the twenty-minute preface/rant/chat before the conversation with the comedian, actor, writer, or POTUS sitting in the chair across from him in his L.A. garage even begins.

The subject line of this post comes from Episode 729 with Roseanne Barrwhich I listened to on the ride from work tonight. I get the sense that Marc normally tries to avoid pure political speeches that could date these recordings, but in this episode he couldn't resist questioning why anyone would support Trump other than as a nihilistic way of saying "Fuck it. Fuck it all." After the rant about the pure evil that is Donald Trump, he gave a short peroration to the dudes in his audience (and his audience has a lot of dudes) about the reluctance some of them might still be harboring about supporting Hillary Clinton. I felt like it might be helpful to transcribe it for my readers (some of whom also have a reluctance to support Hillary):

...And I know a lot of people, a lot of intelligent people, men specifically, I know I know I know, it's hard man. You just want to see that woman lose. It's hard for a lot of men who are secretly infantile, who feel gipped, who have issues their mommies or their daddies. It's uhhh, you know, when you watch a woman with authority speak with authority, deliver a strong leadership vibe, a grounded person ... for a dude sometimes there's only one way to take that in, and that is, "Uuhhh, I hate this teacher. Uuuuhhh, she's so mean this teacher. I wish the substitute was here. Remember that guy?"
Grow up! 

That's all the righteousness that may come out of me for this cycle. We'll see. Don't get alienated. Just let me have my feelings. OK? Can you do that? Can ya?...

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

42 years ago today on the White House lawn.

Nixon's famous helicopter departure from the White House lawn as narrated by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather on CBS News on August 9, 1974.

21 years ago today.

Here's Jerry Garcia's last performance with the Grateful Dead, a month before his death on August 9, 1995.

Monday, August 08, 2016

42 years ago today.

Here's Richard Nixon's August 8, 1974, resignation speech as broadcast on CBS News, followed by commentary from Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Dan Rather, and Roger Mudd.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The One Video to Watch on the 71st Anniversary the Hiroshima Bomb.

It may have been lost in the shuffle as Trump scuffled with gold-star families and crying babies, but the most important campaign moment of the week may have been this conversation about the current Republican nominee for president and nuclear weapons that took place on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show on Wednesday, August 3. This snippet will only take a couple of minutes of your time.

"Be careful America, and be careful Republican leaders. Your party is blowing up." (Mika Brzezinski at 1'33" above)
It won't be just a party blowing up if Trump is elected. Personally, I don't see how anyone concerned about the safety of the world can remain undecided about their choice for president after watching that short video.

...or this one:

Friday, August 05, 2016

2002 in France should be our benchmark for this 2016 US election

The French field of sixteen in 2002.
By Vpe - Own work, Public Domain

Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid would find a lot that looks familiar in the Programme de Jean-Marie Le Pen during the National Front (FN) leader's quest for France's presidency in 2002. Section four of the program was dedicated to reversing the flow of immigrants into France and immediately expelling all immigrants "en situation irrégulière," section seven was devoted to a new protectionism, and section thirteen was all about "la loi et l'ordre," a couple of words that came to our language from French with the Norman invasion and have become the Nixonian mantra for Donald Trump this year. The comparisons between Trump and the FN Le Pens, both Jean-Marie in 2002 and his daughter Marine now, are not far-fetched.

Going into the first round of voting on April 21, 2002, it was widely anticipated that the top two vote getters among the 16 parties participating would be the RPR's Jacques Chirac, the incumbent President (seen as "Super Menteur," or Super Liar, at 1'55" in the video above), and the Socialist Lionel Jospin, the incumbent Prime Minister. Nine national polls conducted in April had Chirac and Jospin within 1 or 2 percentage points of each other with Le Pen trailing them by 4 to 6 points in third.  It was therefore a major shock to everyone in the nation (and much of the world) when Jean-Marie Le Pen qualified for the final round of voting by coming in second (see 3'35" above). A stress on crime committed by foreigners immediately before the election had a lot to do with Le Pen's surge (just as some in the Trump campaign must be looking for a Trumpstag fire of their own in late October of this year).

As some Republicans in 2016 are fond of pointing out, France was then presented with "a binary choice" for the second round of voting on May 5. The parties of the Left which had eaten into Jospin's votes had no problem telling their supporters to vote for the Center-Right establishment candidate in the second round. On May Day there were competing public demonstrations, with 20,000 showing up for the FN's celebration of Joan of Arc and about a million showing up for the Labor Day marches with tricolors mixing with the red flags. The voting four days later wasn't any closer. Le Pen's total between the first and second rounds rose from 4.8 million to 5.5 million votes, but Chirac's rose from 5.6 million to 25.5 million. Chirac won the presidency with 82.2% of the vote.

That's the benchmark our centrist candidate Hillary Clinton needs to be shooting for on November 8, 2016. There's no room for the luxury of voting Green or writing in Bernie Sanders. We need to look toward France 2002 for our model of rejecting xenophobia and the cult of personality in USA 2016.

When Will We See This Burger King Creation on Trump Force One?

Mac N' Cheetos? Who knew that Burger King had entered into a cross-marketing agreement with our orange presidential candidate?

We've seen Donald Trump posing with McDonald's and KFC on his private jet (and with a taco bowl in his gold-plated tower to pander to Hispanics), so when are we going to see some BK product placement? And will he eat his Mac N' Cheetos with a knife and fork?

It's Time for Liberals to Be Politically Incorrect and State the Obvious: 2016 Is a Contest Against Stupid People

This week the grizzled elderly sage of spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood told us that we Americans (especially young Americans and liberal Americans) were too politically correct. I'm inclined to agree to a degree; it's time to call idiots by their name and declare war on idiocy.

It's been obvious for quite a while that any Republican or independent conservative who was able to string a series of grammatically-correct sentences together to form a coherent paragraph was going to reject the candidacy of Donald Trump.

In January, the National Review dedicated an entire "Against Trump" issue to the candidate they described in their lead editorial as "a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones." In June, television's most prominent intellectual conservative commentator, George Will, officially left the GOP saying "This is not my party." He asked for Republicans to defeat Trump and "grit their teeth" through the Clinton presidency and wait for 2020 (Trump's response has been to describe Will with two of the favorite words from his extremely-limited vocabulary: 'Dummy!' and 'Boring!'). The New York Times' most prominent right-of-center voice has been appalled all year by Trumpism, and David Brooks' column today is no exception, telling Trump's Republican enablers that it's time to get off the fence about their support for him: "There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame."

Yesterday news broke about the most obvious revolt of intelligent Republicans against their party's choice for president. The Harvard Republican Club, the oldest group of college Republicans, will not endorse the GOP nominee for the first time in their 128-year-long history. Their statement is worth reading in full, but almost any random paragraph from it contains more common sense than you'll see in hours of commentary from the cable-news experts.
Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.

Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children.

This wasn't just a statement by a single person at the top of the organization. According to the Harvard Crimson article about the decision, 10% of the members support Trump, 10% were undecided, and 80% indicated they would not support him. Let that sink in; that's 80% of the nation's oldest group of college Republicans refusing to support the Republican candidate for president.

So who are the idiots who are supporting Trumpism? The New York Times showed us that this week as well (using language in the following video that the Times would never allow as Fit To Print in the pages of the paper):

Monday, August 01, 2016

EVERY Vote Counts against an Anti-American and Anti-Democratic Donald Trump

Donald Trump crossed another line today in Ohio when he told a group of supporters:
"First of all, it [the primary season] was rigged, and I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest. Because I think my side was rigged. If I didn't win by massive landslides — I mean, think of what we won in New York, Indiana, California 78 percent. That's with other people in the race, but think of it." 
  Last week in Iowa, Trump planted the same seed about the general election:
 "Now we have one left, one left, one left, and in theory, in theory it should be the easiest, but it's a rigged system. It's a totally rigged system. The elections are rigged."

This is another reason -- if not the main reason -- that every vote counts in 2016, even in safely red or blue states. There should be no thought of throwing your vote to a third party or writing in a name that no one will read, just to make yourself feel better or more politically pure this November. During the Democratic convention last week I heard one Bernie supporter from Utah being interviewed on the radio; she told the reporter that she was definitely going to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party because her state was voting Republican no matter what she does; however, she said she might vote for Hillary if she lived in a swing state like Florida or Ohio, in other words, if her vote mattered.

However, in 2016 every vote counts in every state. Try to imagine a situation where, like Gore in 2000, Trump loses a close electoral vote and wins a close popular vote. Would Trump, like Gore in 2000, leave the stage with grace and silence? Would he go back to his gilded penthouse with congratulations for Madame President Clinton? Or, more likely, would his speeches and press conferences and tweets and Facebook posts about vote rigging and "Crooked Hillary" rise to an unprecendented din? And how would some of his core supporters among the well-armed and poorly-educated conspiracists, white supremacists, Fox brainwashees, and "Bikers For Trump," react to his endless whines about unfairness? Would we want to find out?

It's safer simply to make sure that Donald Trump is buried by a vote count, both electoral and popular, that leaves no room for doubt.

The Trump Quote of the Weekend

In the flood of hateful idiocy and untruths coming from Donald Trump's mouth over the weekend, it was hard to zero in on the blackest kernel, until I saw this tweet in my timeline just now.
Doesn't saying Khizr Khan "has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution" prove that Donald Trump has never read the Consitution?

(But if that phrase isn't enough to prove he's no constitutional scholar, there's also the fact that he told Republicans in Congress that he wanted to protect Article XII of the [seven-article] Constitution.)

In case you missed the '3 a.m.' political advertisment from The Simpsons...